Celebrating the exciting journey of radio in Nigeria from 1935 to date on World Radio Day

Hearty congratulations to the Nigerian broadcasting community and us listeners on the celebration of World Radio Day 2022.

Proclaimed in 2011 by the Member States of UNESCO and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012 as an International Day, February 13 became World Radio Day (WRD). Today is the 11th celebration.

Nigeria deserves to join the celebration with good programming. Our country has a storied history with radio.

I have written before that we have Radioland Nigeria. Radio has played many roles in our political, sociological, and economic development. From its early days as asoro ma gba esi (the organ that speaks without getting a response), radio has been with Nigeria since 1935. Engineers of the Post and Telecommunications department rigged up a device for connecting and thus did the Rediffusion service birth in our land.

Radioland Nigeria? Yes, indeed. Nigeria has by one count 492 radio stations to date. Radio Garden online app credits Lagos alone with 75 stations, terrestrial and online. You should ordinarily be able to pick these numbers updated quarterly on the dashboard of the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission but now you must count manually.

The number of radio stations in each state and region also speaks to both history and economic prospects. Other locations with a huge number of stations are FCT with 29 of which 26 are on-air and three online; Oyo State with 42, composed of 36 and six; Anambra State with 26, Kaduna State 27, Kano State 21, and Rivers State 18. Despite the affinity of their people with radio, the states in the North generally have fewer radio stations than their Southern counterparts.

Laboratory radio stations have also grown. These stations are run in most universities by the departments of mass communication in conjunction with engineering.

From Rediffusion to digitisation, Nigeria has gone through eleven landmarks or epochs with radio and broadcasting generally. Radio was central to them.

The most significant landmarks however are the following:

1. Rediffusion relays of BBC Empire Service broadcasts beginning in 1935.

2. Commencement of full broadcasting by the Nigerian Broadcasting Service in 1951. It became Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation in 1957.

3. Introduction of regional radio in 1959 by the Government of Western Nigeria. The Eastern Region followed in 1960 and the Northern Region in 1962.

4. Introduction of television in October 1959 by the Government of Western Nigeria, earning a first in Africa for the region.

5. Introduction of television by the Federal Government in 1962 through the Nigerian Television Service.

6. In 1976, the Federal Military Government centralised critical broadcast organs by taking control and ownership for the Federal Government. It created the Nigerian Television Authority and took over 20 stations.

7. In 1977, the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation introduced Radio Nigeria2 on 45 Martins Street, Lagos as the country’s first FM station. Given that the bulk of radio stations are now on the FM band, this is a significant milestone.

8. Similarly, on April 1, 1978, the Federal Military Government abrogated the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation and created in its stead the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria. It dissolved the NBC and handed over 20 NBC stations to state governments.

However, it retained the stations in Lagos, Ibadan, and Enugu. It then also dissolved the Broadcasting Company of Northern Nigeria and merged its Kaduna station with the FRCN. The four stations became FRCN National Stations with reach to their regions.

9. After four decades of the government’s exclusive ownership, the military government of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida liberalised broadcast ownership in 1992. Decree 38 of 1992 established the National Broadcasting Commission and charged it to accept and screen applications for the issuance of licenses for private participation in broadcasting in the country. This gave birth to the wave of private broadcast stations, both radio and television.

10. Community radio took off in 2015 with the licensing of the first 15 radio stations.

11. Nigeria migrated partially to digital in 2017 following long delays and postponements.

Enter niche broadcasting

Niche broadcasting has grown since 1977 with RN2. Radio Nigeria2 was the first dedicated FM station. Its template was different from the existing FRCN and state broadcast stations on AM channels.

It was lively, breezy, and offered short takes on the news. It ran mostly on music and appealed to the young.

In those days, some young men reportedly bought speakers that they attached to their small radio sets tuned to RN2. The output gave the illusion that they had stereos playing music in their homes.

Radio Rivers 2 introduced the News in Special English anchored by Boma Erekosima in 1981. The Pidgin English recasting of the day’s news was a hit.

Since the initial entries, Nigeria now has a growing number of stations positioned to cater for special niches. In the Lagos area alone, the stations include the following:

Sports Radio Brila FM, Lagos Traffic Radio, Wazobia FM, Women FM, Classic FM, Inspiration FM. there is an Armed Forces Radio in Abuja and similar niche-focused stations. Radioland Nigeria.

Salute to the broadcasting professionals of my acquaintance and interaction. I cite my boss, Kevin Ejiofor, Dr Christopher Kolade, Mr Ron Mgbatogu and my mate from United Christian College Apapa Tonia Ike-Ejeye. Kingsley Osadolor, Victor Ludorum at UNN in 1984, has transitioned effortlessly from print to broadcasting.

Happy World Radio Day to all those who continue to make radio the number one medium with the broadest reach.

Published on Brandfit.